Lighting Africa Ethiopia Program

Ayele Addis

More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity; around 60 million in Ethiopia alone. In the absence of other options, these citizens are forced to either go without light or use fuel-based sources such as kerosene lamps, which are expensive and oftentimes dangerous as they pollute the air and create fire hazards.

Lighting Africa, a joint IFC-World Bank Program, aims to enable access to off-gird lighting and energy services for those not connected to the grid,by mobilizing the private sector to build sustainable markets for affordable, high quality, modern off-grid solar products.

Lighting Africa works with solar product manufacturers, distributers and retailers, government agencies, finance institutions and other stakeholders to improve market systems and address a range of market barriers that include regulatory constraints, market spoilage from poor-quality products, low consumer awareness levels, and financial bottlenecks.

Lighting Africa Project in Ethiopia was conceived in 2014 and activities kicked off in October 2015, when the off-grid market was in its infancy. Back then, only 20% of Ethiopians had access to the grid and only 5% solar penetration to the market. Lighting Africa/Ethiopia piloted a new market development approach that sought to address the entry barriers and other challenges impeding the growth of the sector.

The overall goal of the project was to work with clients/companies working in the off-grid lighting sector to develop a commercial market for high quality solar lanterns and kits that enable access to cleaner and safer off-grid lighting for 11.8 million people by December 2019. The clients include: global manufacturers that deliver high quality products and are developing supply chains in a nascent off-grid lighting market, as well as local distribution companies that the project worked with to establish new market channels.


The program has trained Solar distributors, retailers, solar technicians and MFIs.  In addition, Consumer education materials have been developed and deployed to educate last mile end users and retailers.

Below are the major accomplishments of the program:

  • Standard adoption: (i)CES 140 Compulsory Ethiopian Standard for Solar lanterns and Kits, and (ii)ES 6087:2017 SHS standard adopted by ESand iii) harmonization of ES 6087 with the lighting Global standard
  • Support to improve Import regulation: (i) Pre-Export verification of conformity (PVoC) system has been adopted by MoT. The Ministry launches the PVOC system in collaboration of LE programs
  • Support the inclusion of off grid solar products in the Harmonized System(HS) code
  • Training of Solar Technicians.  Over 230Solar technicians have been trained to provide trouble shooting, and maintenance services
  • The program has (i) trained over 400 SMEs, and 4000 retailers to increase the distribution channel of QV products. (ii) Two international B2B workshops have been organized. (iii) Retail activation has been conducted throughout the country, to educate 4000 retailers about quality verified solar products- to establish new market channels.
  • Over 20 million people have been reached with the Above the line and Below the line consumer education campaigns, to help end users to make correct buying decisions and increase awareness of quality verified solar products
  • Support Ethiopia Solar development Association (ESEDA): Developed a five-year Corporate Strategy for E-SEDA and facilitated training for E-SEDA board members on managing business.